Thanks to their loser point against the Edmonton Oilers last night, the Montreal Canadiens will be a playoff team in the Scotiabank North Division (TM), while the Calgary Flames, the Vancouver Canucks, and the Ottawa Senators will be left on the outside looking in.
Ottawa knew this was a rebuilding year from the outset, while the Canucks had an everything-that-can-possibly-go-wrong season for a team that was pretty shallow to begin with. But the Calgary Flames reasonably expected to make the playoffs, or at least to come close. Instead they’re confronted with a lot of tough decisions, such as who they’ll trade Johnny Gaudreau to and who they’ll replace Johnny Gaudreau with when they trade Johnny Gaudreau.
Dear Flames: our sympathy for your plight is boundless. Here’s a Canadian classic for you.
Since the Winnipeg Jets stubbornly refuse to clinch the third seed, we still don’t know for sure who the Leafs will face in Round One. It’s probably going to be the Habs, but if they win their last game and the Jets lose their last two in regulation, it’ll be Winnipeg. Aside: the Jets’ last game is against the Leafs on Friday, meaning they could wind up playing a decisive role in determining their own opponent depending how things shake out.
Practice Updates by Hardev Lad. The Leafs had a busy Monday at practice as various members of the IR Brigade started showing up. Also Denis Malgin, for some reason. Hey, why not.
Pontus Holmberg Is An SHL Champion by Brigstew. I actually wrote the profile for Holmberg for last year’s prospect ranking, and it was the hardest one of those I’ve ever had to do. Not for any grand reason, just because it was so goddamn hard to find an interesting angle on a coach-loved depth forward who never scored. A line promotion and a championship run later, and it looks like the Hockey Pope will have a livelier profile this time around.
Around The Hockey World
Maple Leafs Hotstove: Leafs Notebook by Anthony Petrielli. Anthony remarks on something I’ve noticed too: Sheldon Keefe seems way harder on Pierre Engvall than any other Leaf I can think of. He doesn’t leave much doubt at to why—he always wants 110% physical engagement from our favourite giraffe—but it stands out by contrast to his gentle public words for some other players.
NHL.com: Lightning Start All-Black Forward Line Against Panthers by William Douglas. All-Black lines have been rare in pro hockey, which is what makes the trio of Mathieu Joseph, Gemel Smith, and Daniel Walcott such a big appearance.
Florida Panthers: Carter Verhaeghe Scores A Goal. Here Verhaeghe is, scoring the aforementioned goal.
Philadelphia Flyers: JVR! Species really wanted this one included.
CBC: Sale of Connecticut Whale Bolsters NWHL by John Wawrow. The Whale become the third privately-owned team of the NWHL’s current six franchises. The league also plans to expand to Montreal in 2022.
NHL.com: Sabres Locker Clean-Out Interviews by Jourdon LaBarber. This was the big news yesterday in the NHL: Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, likely the two best players on a struggling Sabres team, both gave interviews that strongly suggested they wouldn’t mind being traded. Eichel indicated there’s been a dispute between him and the franchise over how to handle his most recent injury, a herniated disc. Not great!
The entirety of the past decade has been dark in Sabres-land, but Eichel leaving would be a new low. Buffalo completed one of the purest tank jobs in NHL history in 2015 for a chance to draft either Eichel or Connor McDavid. They got the former, he’s been extremely good, it hasn’t been enough, and now they’re facing the possibility he’s going to skip town after six years with nary a playoff game to show.
But that aside: big trade potential! The New York Rangers, with their strong prospect pool and their evident desire to take a big step, seem like a natural fit. The Los Angeles Kings could also put a credible Eichel offer on the table, and they’d love to be competitive again while Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty still have anything left. The Leafs would be a mighty difficult fit for Eichel given their cap constraints and lack of A-prospects, but maybe Brandon Pridham can do some arcane cap magic to get him here. Never say never! Really, every team should be interested in Eichel. He’s that good, little though the Sabres have done to help him.
Where do you think Eichel goes, and for what? Ponder it over, and have a lovely Tuesday.
What team will Jack Eichel be on at the start of next season?
This poll is closed
New York Rangers
Los Angeles Kings
None of the above